by Randy Walker
James Van Deinse of the Vero Beach Tennis & Fitness Club had his name placed alongside such bold-faced tennis names as former U.S. Olympians and Davis Cuppers Steve Johnson and Denis Kudla and former top 25 players Adrian Mannarino, Bernie Tomic and Benoit Paire in the singles main draw at the ATP Challenger Tour’s Monterrey, Mexico Challenger.
Van Deinse was making his debut on this high-level of professional, just below the ATP Tour level and it marked his highest mark in professional tennis. Despite not having an ATP singles or doubles ranking, Van Deinse was able to get a main draw singles (and doubles) wild card entry into the event, on the recommendation of former Mexican Davis Cupper and fellow Vero Beach teach pro Daniel Garza.
In the first round, Van Deinse drew word No. 130 ranked Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, fresh off advancing into the main draw of the Australian Open, where he lost to up-and-coming American star Sebi Korda in the second round. Van Deinse hung in as hard as you could, but was defeated 6-0, 6-1.
“Getting to play in an ATP challenger level tennis event is an awesome experience that very few players in the world can say they have done, so just compete was a thrill for me,” Van Deinse said via text from Mexico. “From getting to spend time on the ‘players only’ lounge, to signing autographs, to having ball kids, linesmen, and a chair umpire. It truly feels like the big times.”
Despite holding some recent wins in Vero Beach over former top 100 doubles player Brian Battistone and former top 400 player Michel Schmid (read more here: https://tennisverobeach.com/index.php/2022/12/19/james-van-deinse-beats-former-top-400-pro-to-win-utr-tournament-at-vero-beach-tennis-fitness-club/?fbclid=IwAR3oIE0-Jh__oe-RnMAgLROFip1wcNsjcnNo6qKHsfV3jLvvCiiXZuvSZr0) and some respectable results in the qualifying rounds at the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour USTA Pro Circuit event in Vero Beach, Van Deinse said the level of talent was significantly higher on the Challenger circuit.
“My opponent was top 150 in the world, and it showed,” Van Deinse said. “It was difficult for me to keep up with his pace. The level of intensity it takes to get even one point against a player of his caliber is almost overwhelming. Even though it wasn’t the result I wanted, I gave it my everything I had… as I always do. After this event, I am inspired to continue training to become the best tennis player I can be.”
Next up for Van Deinse will be competing the “King of Hill” final at The Boulevard on Thursday, March 2, where if he wins or finishes second, he will be awarded a main draw wild card in the doubles event at the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships that is held at his club, the Vero Beach Tennis & Fitness Club at Timber Ridge April 24-30.